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Texas Trout & Reds
Cuts and passes along Texas’ Gulf Coast, says the author, are the keys to finding fine fishing for these popular saltwater species this month. Here’s why. (May 2008) ... [+] Full Article
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Super Saltwater Angling!

And when those tides are running high, seek flounder along the main shorelines of bay systems. Attacking vast shorelines would be a waste of time and end up in dogged frustration, so you've got to have a strategy. Instead of looking over eight miles of shoreline, narrow your search down to an eighth of a mile. You must eliminate water to successfully bag flounder. The first step I take while eliminating water on a strange ecosystem is to look for a shoreline that has stands of roseau cane.

Roseau cane has an intricate system that is somewhat like a smaller version of mangrove and it gives baitfish a place to linger, hide and dodge larger predators. It is best to fish these areas during the first couple of hours of a falling tide. As the water recedes, the baitfish are swept from their cover and the predator/prey dynamic begins. This strategy works great until fall when the big cold fronts arrive, pushing flounder out through fish passes into the Gulf of Mexico.

As noted in my book, Flounder Fever, the key here is to understand points of migration. A "pass" does not necessarily have to mean a bottleneck area like Sabine or Rollover Pass. A pass can also be an historic area of flounder migration. Sea Wolf Park in Galveston Bay is a fine example. Every fall, hundreds of flounder end up in ice chests there as they pass through the bay toward Gulf waters. There is no physical reason the flounder have to move through that spot, but they are there every year. It's part of their historic migration route.

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When fishing the passes, there are not as many factors in play as in other spots. A pass is a transitory position for flounder to hold. In other words, they are either there or they are not, and if anglers have the patience, they usually can score by being patient and waiting for the next school to move. Be mindful of outgoing tides because they are what push flounder through.

This process repeats itself in reverse in the spring when flounder come from the Gulf through the passes back into the bays.

By the time this magazine hits newsstands, the regulations for red snapper will likely be changed to a four-month season and two per person daily big limit in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Be sure to check before fishing.

With that said, anglers bent on catching snapper will be targeting areas they know they can catch trophy-sized fish to make their trips worthwhile. And they'll also be looking for areas legal for snapper fishing year 'round. Let's start with catching big fish.

Snapper are not drawn only to big structure like huge oilrigs. The smaller wellheads, rocks and tiny reefs hold good numbers of fish, too. And since these areas are not pressured as much as the rigs, you tend to find more big fish on them.

Anchor upcurrent of a given piece of this structure and all back across it. The preferred method of fishing these areas is to use a typical bottom rig with either squid or Spanish sardines rigged on two circle hooks. A lot of times you'll have a strong current and you need to get the bait down to the structure. When you're fishing rigs, you've got a little more leeway, but presenting bait 5 feet too far in one direction or another can make all the difference in the world.

Top areas to find this kind of structure include the western half of the Sabine Bank, a plateau that rises off of the Gulf's floor and forms a shallow flat that parallels both sides of the ship channel that leads out of the Sabine jetties. The rigs in this area are called the "High Island Block" on maps. This 25- to 40-foot-deep flat attracts an awesome amount of baitfish and is dotted by hundreds of platforms and wrecks that attract monster red snapper. Most angling pressure is to the east and so are most of the rigs. This area features lots of wrecks, rocks and other hard structure.

Another important area for snapper fishermen now is the Coast off of Freeport, where anglers can find snapper in state waters year 'round. The waters get deep there in short order and there are numerous wrecks and rigs to target. Although federal officials close down snapper fishing, the state keeps it open year 'round in state controlled waters, which extend out to nine nautical miles.

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